Violence in childhood narratives: Chimamanda Adichie's purple hibiscus and half of a yellow sun
Kiguru, Doseline W
MetadataShow full item record
This research investigates the role of the child figure in telling narratives of violence based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's two novels: Purple Hibiscus (2004) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). I have explored the uniqueness of the child's voice in the two novels and the significance of the gender of the child narrator. Towards this goal, I researchqd on the narrative techniques that Adichie uses, the kind of violence that the child narrator presents and how the gender of the narrator affects the presentation of this violence through two main theoretical frameworks: Narratology and Historical Revisionism. In the two novels studied for this research, the violence is presented in a parallel manner with the violence at the individual and domestic level always echoing the violence at the political and state level. The constant link between the political and the domestic levels of violence, with a special focus on its effects on the individual, points to the fact that Adichie is a family writer. She seems to have an intimate concern with the survival of the family and the individuals within it. The foregrounding of the domestic violence points out that the freedom individuals enjoy is linked to the larger microcosm of political freedom. That is why her characters are more concerned with the freedom at the domestic sphere before moving out to engage in the quest for freedom at the political sphere. By putting emphasis on the freedom at the family and individual levels, Adichie is offering a solution to the violence which continues to define the state. To enjoy freedom and peace at the political and state level, the people must start with the personal freedom at the domestic level. This research has also observed that in the two novels, while the male child focuses on narrating violence from the political perspective and the female child focuses on violence at the domestic sphere, the two gendered voices do not contradict each other. In fact, the voices complement each other for a holistic approach in narrating violence. At the end, Adichie seems to point to the hybrid space that the child occupies. In effect, therefore, though the child is involved in the violence, this space is not permanent. In many ways, the child is constantly negotiating, questioning and even resisting the society's construction of violence. In this regard, I have concluded that the child's narrative voice is a deliberate attempt to point at the uncomfortable truths in society like domestic violence and genocide. The violence presented in the two novels unmasks violence without necessarily making jud~ents. The child's factual presentation of the violence at the domestic level and the political level therefore becomes a pointer to the violence that continues to define the post-colony today. The child's voice also points to the cyclic nature of this violence.